Taking swing at bankers’ pay is long overdue


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The Independent Online

Outlook It seems that every time banks issue trading statements, the cost of the payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal rises. Lloyds has ensured that unhappy trend continues by adding another £900m to its provisions. That brings the industry-wide total to £22bn and still there is no end in sight. It is a mess, but one not of the making of the current generation of banking leaders.

The blame for it lies with people, who, with apologies to the Bank of England’s Governor Mark Carney, are now spending their time relaxing at some of Britain’s best golf courses. When they are not in the boardroom, that is, and I’m looking at you, commander-of-the-HBOS-Titanic-turned-bookie Andy Hornby, who now runs Coral.

As with so many financial scandals, it took years before the enormity of this one became apparent, by which time most of those responsible were donning their plus fours and shouting their “fores”.

A handful of them lost a handful of a few free shares from the final year or so of their so-called long-term incentive plans. But they are the exception rather than the rule.

This is why the Bank’s plan to put bankers’ pay “at risk” for as long as seven years makes sense. Had this requirement been on the books at the start of the last decade, some of the executives responsible for the mass mis-selling of PPI policies would have suffered alongside their shareholders.

Remuneration committees like to talk about aligning executives’ interests with those of their shareholders. The seven-year deferral more or less does that.

Instead, we have the EUs bonus cap, which has resulted in increases in basic pay, along with the cynical introduction of “economic” or “role-based” allowances.

These can cheerfully be spent on the fairway in future because shareholders won’t be able to get their hands on cash which has already been handed over. So they’re stuck in the rough.